Iron fist in a velvet glove, the 2X4 Nissan Navara

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Wow! This year has flown by. It feels like only a few weeks ago that I first reviewed the new Navara. That was a year ago! I shot it outside a church. I did this because pick-ups, or bakkies as we like to call them, are a religion in South Africa. They sell in abundance. Today’s versions are iron fists in fancy casings.

 

A year later, and Nissan has launched 2X4 versions to their 4X4 offering.

 

The Navara boasts the title of the 2016 International Pick-up Award. It also shares its chassis with its affiliated motoring partners, Mercedes-Benz and Renault. Both have ventured into the pickup market for the first time, using the success of Navara as their platform base. Their pickups are the X-Class and Alaskan respectively.

 

The new Navara is a lot lighter than its predecessor, 176kg in fact; it features a smaller, yet frugal 2.3-l twin-turbocharged diesel engine (140kW and 450Nm) and has fancy rear suspension geometry - more in line with what you'd find in a luxury SUV. Able to tow a braked trailer of up to 3 500kg.

It is also more luxurious - with niceties such as leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat as well as heated seats. The list continues. Despite its rugged appearance, the Navara’s softened by its comforting and cosseting interior. 

 

So, how do these modern engineering features translate in function by comparison to its rivals? I’ve reviewed the Ford Ranger in several derivatives and driven a Hilux for a bit. 

The new fancy suspension didn’t feel too fancy - the ride is like other utility 4X4s and less like a luxury Sports Utility Vehicle. I must say that over more challenging road surfaces, I note a better assimilation than other bakkies I’ve driven.  Handling is pretty good, too. I’d link its new suspension set-up to this improvement. 

 

What was impressive is the Navara’s engine: despite its modest capacity of 2.3-l, its performance is both prodigious as well as frugal. It does have its downside: it’s vocal. As a result, it’s better to drive with the windows closed in an attempt to block its swoosh and clattering sounds. 

 

I reviewed the automatic LE model. Its gearbox – a slick shifting 7-speed - is a highlight of the Navara. 

 

The interior is clad in an array of quality materials that adds to the luxuriousness of car. It’s hard to fault with my only gripe being its infotainment system. In isolation, it’s not bad. When compared to others, like the system in the Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux, it’s not as easy to use. 

 

Overall, the Navara is a highly competent workhorse, able to carry loads of 1002kg. It feels solid and stable on the road. Aesthetically, it’s polished and sits comfortably in a parking lot amongst the “fancy folk”.  From a functional aspect, the load bay on double cab versions has been stretched by 67mm to 1 503mm and been made deeper (474mm from 456mm), resulting in a capacity of 1 061 litres. That is great for those who are going to use the vehicle for work purposes.

 

PLUS +

Handsome.

Solid.

Comfy interior.

Frugal.

Strong workhorse.

Nice automatic gearbox.

 

MINUS -

Choppy ride.

Average infotainment system.

 

Competition 

Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Toyota Hilux, Isuzu KB, Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, VW Amarok, Mitsubishi Triton and Fiat Fullback.

 

Pricing

2X4

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 2X4 SE R461 900

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 2X4 SE auto R486 900

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 2X4 LE R542 500

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 2X4 LE auto R559 900

4X4

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 SE R540 700

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 LE R596 500

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 LE auto R616 500

 

Service and warranty 

Peace of mind is provided with a class-leading warranty of 6 years/150,000km and a comprehensive 3-year/90,000km service plan.

My choice

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 2X4 LE auto R559 900

www.nissan.co.za

 

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